Photo: The scene of the verbal crime(s).
I was remembering a one-upper from my past tonight. As one-uppers go, she was the worst. Her name was Jillian, and she worked as a manager for a bar and restaurant; I was a line cook. She reminded me of a washed-out Pomeranian from the eighties. She was short and stocky, Italian-born, from the looks of it. Her uniform consisted of high-waisted, pleated, acid washed shorts; a crisp white t-shirt, tucked in; a brown woven belt; bright, white socks and tennis shoes to match; a gold cross with a tiny flint of diamond in the middle; and a large barrette, which held half of her hair away from her face and enormous mall bangs. She was a brassy, unnatural blond, and wore Barbie-pink blush. She considered herself 'just one of the guys', and spoke in an urgent, raspy voice. Her frenetic energy made up for her lack of height; her tough-talking, no-nonsense way of speaking made her seem rushed, but important in a small town way. She always clapped people on the back too hard, and laughed louder than anyone, as if she were in a competition. She worked hard and partied harder. She was the one I was standing next to when I found out Princess Diana had died; she was the only one who cried real tears, wiping them away with acrylic nails studded with rhinestones. I hated her.
I hated her because she was a self-important, underwhelming one-upper. If you'd been to Egypt, she had been there twice; if you had bought a boat, she had grown up on a schooner the size of a football field. If you had your Bachelor's degree, she had her doctorate--if you mentioned how Italian you were, SHE was practically related to the Godfather. She reminded me of New Jersey. Every time I tried to talk to her, she turned it into a competition. After having my son, she wanted to know the birthing details. I said it was about 15 hours, which is average, and that I had done it naturally. She told me she had her two sons naturally, while planning Thanksgiving dinner and signing Christmas cards--ha ha, she chortled condescendingly--I guess you could accuse me of being Supermom! I guess I could accuse you of being a desperate, one-upping bitch, I thought to myself. She used anything to compare herself to people. You had a fight with your boyfriend and he sent you flowers? She and her husband had been happily married for 11 years and had only been in three arguments--but they settled their differences by speaking to each other like adults, and had never raised their voices in anger. Imagine, being so happy that you never raise your voice at all; they were probably so happy, they never even spoke to each other. If you had worked a ten-hour day, she had worked 25 hours; if your parents had died in a plane crash, her parents had been set on fire in front of her and there was nothing she could do about it. Her children were better than yours, her hairstylist was better than yours (her hairstylist was the best deaf and blind hairstylist around), her resume was better than yours, the hairs in her chin were better than yours. I'm amazed I lived to tell this tale--anyone this omnipotent should have made a peon like me feel unworthy of all that life has to offer. But I prevailed.
I used to think she was insecure and just needed a little validation now and then--we are all guilty of that from time to time. But when I searched deep and wide, through the hidden depths of my soul, I recognized that, no--she was just a bitch.
I hate one-uppers. I hate them more than you, or anyone you know, or anyone I know, plus infinity.